[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-tominkora: The Unicorn’s Quest

A bronze-clad figure makes his way through the crowd gathered about for an upcoming slave auction. Trying his best not to attract unnecessary attention, he strolls into the reviewing area and begins scanning the “merchandise” for any familiar face.

It’s hard NOT to pay attention to someone who looks like he’s wandered in from a medieval Earth re-enactment.

A little wiry human man with mousy brown hair waves a hand to get Lyddmull’s attention and asks: “Looking for a new squire? We’ve got the best!”

The Seamel raises an eyebrow at this, but makes his way over towards the man. “I seek Javel,” he says simply, “I was told he had one such as I need.”

That gets wide eyes and a shocked gape from the dealer. “You’re making a mistake, stranger.”

“So I have been told,” Lyddmull replies with a quick nod, “It rather makes one curious as to whether or not he actually sells merchandise.”

“He does,” the wiry man replies. “Through folks like me. I’m in sales. He’s more of a…merchandise acquisition manager.”

“So, you are a broker,” the Fastheldian replies, his brow furrowed, “Then perhaps you can help me after all.” He draws the picture from his pouch. “This is the youth I mean to acquire,” he says, showing the image to the slave-seller.

The broker eyes the picture, then shakes his head. “Sorry, friend. He went with the batch three days ago. Acquired by the Nall. Cried like a baby all the way to the transport. But, I mean, wouldn’t you?”

“Possibly,” Lyddmull says, setting his jaw in frustration. He looks away for a moment, none-too-pleased with what he is about to say. “In that case, I am afraid that it is indeed Javel I must see,” he says.

“Why?” the broker asks. “And who the hell are you?”

“Who I am does not really matter, does it?” the knight replies with a sigh, “I need to find the boy, Javel knows to what Nall labor camp he has been sent.”

“Fine,” the broker says with a shrug. “You want to see the man? Go to Candlelight Imports on Nebula Street. Tell the bot you need a facial.”

Lyddmull sizes the man up for a moment to determine whether or not he is lying, but nods either way. “My thanks,” he says simply before turning away and leaving the market.

It’s not far to Nebula Street, with most of its dusty storefronts shuttered with metal plates. One of the few open enterprises is Candlelight Imports. A tripedal Phyrrian lurks outside, plasma rifle in hand, scanning its surroundings with optical sensor clusters arrayed on its triangular head.

The Bronze Rider, sans charger, strides up to the mechanoid. “I have been told to request a facial here,” he says, opening his visor.

The Phyrrian clicks and whirs. “Have you? Then step inside. Enjoy your stay.”

Lyddmull hesitates for just a moment before he steps past the Phyrrian, his jaw set as he enters what is sure to be a wretched hive of scum and villainy, surrounded by an entire city of scum and villainy.

Inside, he finds a well-appointed showroom with several display cases under amber plasma lanterns. A thin man, six-feet-tall, wears a dapper black suit and spats. Tufts of white hair sprout from behind his ears. The man stands behind a display case that sits between Lyddmull and a closed door with a digital lock. “Welcome,” the man greets. “How may I be of assistance?”

“Greetings,” Lyddmull says, his eyes scanning the man before him quickly.  He takes several steps across the floor towards the man. “I seek Javel,” he says simply, “Are you he?”

“Oh, heavens no,” the man replies. “I am Lutheran Prady. I handle day-to-day affairs and appointments for Javel.” He pulls a PDA from behind the display case and activates a HUD. “I have an opening on Friday next.”

“That is … not likely to be sufficiently early, Mr. Prady,” the Seamel says. He pauses for a moment before continuing. “Perhaps you can help me,” he says, “A transport of your merchandise left three days ago for Parallax space. I need to know the location for which it was destined. Now, my question is, what would it take to get such information?”

The well-groomed old man gives a pained sigh and winces. He pinches the bridge of his nose between two fingers like he’s fending off a headache. Then he regards Lyddmull with a rather predatory gaze. “You will have to address such inquiries to Javel himself. If you wish to make it a priority, well, that can be arranged. I cannot guarantee that it will be without hazard.”

“Do I seem like a man not accustomed to hazard?” the heavily armed and armored knight inquires, a hint of a smile flickering across his face, “The matter is, of course, a priority to me and my business is of no threat to Javel’s. I would appreciate what could be done to expedite the matter.”

“What you are accustomed to is hardly my concern,” Prady replies. He tilts his head, then taps out a sequence on the PDA. The door behind him unlocks and hisses open, revealing a shadowy corridor beyond. “Find what you seek down that hall, good sir.”

The Seamel sighs a bit then nods, moving past the display case and into the corridor. He pauses for a moment, allowing his eyes to adjust to the relative darkness.

The door clunks shut behind Lyddmull, and then beeps as the lock reinitializes. He’s plunged into total darkness at this point. And more or less total silence, except for the faint hiss of air cycling through the overhead vent.

The knight actually rolls his eyes. Invisibly, in the darkness, that is. His left hand taps a control on his helmet and the visor flips shut even as his right draws the Songblade from its scabbard. He stands still while getting used to the faint glow of the blade, shrugging the shield on his back free and bringing it forward on his left arm.

“If I wanted you dead, you would’ve been dead days ago,” comes a disembodied male voice over a loudspeaker. Apparently, it’s sunken in the ceiling above the door at the far end of the corridor. “Still could be, if I don’t enjoy the outcome of this conversation.”

Moving slowly forward, Lyddmull nods to the invisible voice. “I have been warned as much,” he says, “So theatrics aside, what is it you want?”

“Let’s start with why you’re so insistent about finding just another sad fool who ran afoul of reality on Tomin Kora,” Javel wonders.

“I am not certain the answer will make much sense to you,” the Seamel replies, smirking faintly, “He leaves behind a young wife and unborn child. I would that a moment’s cowardice not leave his child fatherless. While I am aware that he may already be dead and that even if I find him, I might be unsuccessful in counselling him to return, I have given my word to do my best to locate him, and that is what I shall do.” He continues down the hall, the sword in his hand granting only a few feet of visibility.

“Tomin Kora boasts a rich tradition of orphans and bastards,” Javel says. “Fairy tale knights ought to know better than come looking for happy endings.”

“If you think a knight expects a happy ending,” Lyddmull replies, coming to a stop near the speaker, “I do think you might be reading the wrong stories.”

“The one you want is gone, bought and paid for,” the disembodied voice explains. “He’s probably mining polydenum on Shadin IX already. If he’s lucky, he’ll die in the first week. But he didn’t strike me as lucky.”

“I do not disagree,” the Seamel says with a faint shrug, “And while I thank you for granting me the name of the world to which he has been sent, I somehow doubt you would go through all this trouble to tell me that.”

A light chuckle. “You want to find him? I’ll help you, friend! The Nall are going to *love* you. Might not waste you in the mines, though. The noble warrior schtick should go over great in the arena.”

“I imagine it might,” the Bronze Rider replies, “Though that might prove more costly to them than simply whatever you hope to receive.” He remains still, cautious.

The hissing sound intensifies overhead: a bluish-green gas starts roiling into the corridor. “We’ll see. How long can you hold your breath in that getup?”

“The filters should be able to handle this for some time,” says the Seamel. Still, he uses the faint light of his sword to see if there is any other exit. If not, he’ll return to the door through which he entered. “So your intention is to drug me into senseless so that I will not prevent you from taking me to the very place I want to go,” he adds, “It seems a bit wasteful, does it not?”

“Tarcyx gas is cheap,” Javel replies. “Easy enough to make with a few chemicals and exhaust fumes.” The doors are locked, with digital interface pads that seem to want alphanumeric codes. Beyond that, there’s just the vent overhead that’s spewing gas. The conduit might be large enough for a pre-teen to enter.

The Seamel nods slowly. “Well, I do not suppose you mind if I raise the cost a bit, then,” he says as draws a rarely used plasma pistol from his side and aims it up towards the vent, pressing the firing stud.

The gout of energy from Lyddmull’s weapon ignites the combustible chemicals in the gas mixture. The concussion of the blast flings him back toward the showroom and against the door with a THWUMP! The conduit is sealed before the fire can spread deeper into the building, so the fiery blast is contained within the corridor.

Upside: The fire consumes the gas in the air and is quickly exhausted. Downside: Lyddmull is baking inside his armor for a few seconds.

The Seamel cries out in pain from the burn and removes his helmet once the fire is out. The bronze-clad composite armor is, of course, not true medieval plate armor, it is simply designed to imitate it. Nevertheless, it certainly doesn’t tickle. Catching his breath from the impact against the door, he eventually speaks up. “Are you still there?” he asks the disembodied voice.

“Oh, good, you’re not dead yet,” Javel answers.

“Not yet,” Lyddmull says, forcing himself to his feet. “You know, this really is not necessary,” he says.

“Necessary? Perhaps not,” Javel agrees. “Amusing? For me, at least, yes.” A few moments of silence, then: “I was going to unleash the ninjas and thugs in wave after wave. Then I was going to try the spike trap beneath your feet. And if that failed, I was going to crush you between the corridor walls. But that really would result in the squandering of some resources and, well, no, you aren’t worth the mess. You want to go find your little friend? Be my guest. Go ask the Nall to give him back.” The light on the digital lock by the door to the showroom flickers from red to green. CLICK. “You are free to go.”

“Well, I am glad you are amused,” Lyddmull replies wryly, stooping to take up his helm and replacing it on his head. With a grunt of pain, he reaches out to open the door.

The door slides open with a hiss to allow the Seamel to depart the corridor for the showroom. Lutheran Prady waits outside, hands clasped behind his back. The brief widening of his eyes is the only hint of surprise at the knight’s return.

“A satisfactory meeting, I trust?” Prady inquires.

“Rather surprisingly, yes,” Lyddmull says, replacing shield and sword, “I, hopefully, received the information I needed. Of course, I should rather my next steps were less … for lack of a better word, terrifying, but that is not the fault of this particular parley.”

“Terror, when it comes to the Nall, is healthy,” the old man says. “Pursuit of this quest, on the other hand, is anything but. You really should reconsider. Even assuming you make it past the Line of Pain – and that is a serious assumption in the wake of that horrible creature’s recent incursion – you’re unlikely to reach the mining planet or the encampment without an encounter with our reptiloid friends. Whatever his family offered to pay cannot be worth your life.”

“His family is certainly in no position to pay anything,” Lyddmull says with a faint smile, stepping out of the perilous corridor. “And you are not incorrect,” he says, “I certainly would not bet upon the odds of my survival in this venture. However, poor as a measure of morality is cold pragmatism. Were I to step away now, my word would count as nothing.”

Prady sighs. “A man with morals on Tomin Kora. Next you’ll tell me a communist is running the Odarite Merchant’s Guild.” He shakes his head. “Javel must like you. He didn’t kill you outright.” He does his best not to glance at the mop and bucket waiting beside the doorway. “I feared I would be on cleanup detail.”

“I confess my joy at your avoiding that duty is entirely self-motivated,” the Seamel replies with a broad grin, “At any rate. I had best go in search of either a ship to stow away on. Or a crew of mad men…”

“You’re rare as a unicorn in a field full of boars as it is,” the old man muses. “Good luck finding more than the usual pigs.” With that, he takes the mop and bucket and disappears down the corridor toward Javel’s inner sanctum. The door closes behind him. The digital lock telltale shifts from green to red.

The Bronze Rider considers the lock for a moment, deciding whether or not to be concerned for the man’s safety. He can only do so much, however, and so he maneuvers himself gently towards to door, wracking his brain in search of a plan.
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[OTHERSPACE AUDIO LOG] No. 6: “Interlude With A Vampire”

In the sixth installment, we go back 17 years to that time on Sanctuary when Jaxx ate a horrible batch of chili and had the strangest dreams!

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[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-exploration: Portal Lock Antipathy

The Nall exploration vessel Brazen Star isn’t docking at the Consortium fuel tanker. Tyalavikil lacks the authority to do so without clear permission from the Vox Council on Nalhom.

So, instead, he orders ship’s systems to minimum except for sensors and decryption. The Brazen Star goes into passive spy mode while the ship’s commander awaits clearance from the homeworld.

Over the past few weeks, the ship’s interrogator has been slowly working on the mind of Tyalavikil. Never a full intrusion, or even enough to make the touch known. Slowly, but surely however, Acran increases the connection with each contact, acclimating the Nall to his presence. He is not, however, doing so when he steps onto the bridge to deliver his report, standing by silently while awaiting the Nall’s response.

“Go ahead,” the commander orders. He seems pensive and edgy. The impatience colors his tone of voice. Before Acran’s arrival, his mind had been on other things, distracted, and the Mekke picks up just a hint of it – something guilt-tinged; something dark. If light treason had an odor, this could be it. Soon enough, though, it is tamped down and replaced by a more focused, attentive, industrial mood.

“Crew morale is significantly higher than is typical,” the Mekke clacks into his translator as he hands the Nall a more detailed report, “Anticipation of glorious service to the empire seems to be a prime cause.” He stays as far from the commander’s mind as possible at this time, avoiding any association between the sensation and his presence.

“Not much to be pleased about until we have the means to refuel,” Tyalavikil replies, gnashing his fangs. “Little has changed but the starfield.” He gestures toward the Rucker on the viewscreen. “Do you suppose the sight of the Consortium tanker is a source of optimism for our crew?”

The Mekke pauses, as if gauging the minds of the crew for a moment. “The predator requires prey,” he says simply, turning his head towards the viewscreen, “I confess, that it is not a mindset we Mekke will ever understand.”

Silence falls on the conversation until the communications officer reports that the Parallax has its own tanker on the way. It’s a ship called the Bountiful Goddess. “She should arrive within the next six hours,” the comms officer concludes.

Tyalavikil’s mind betrays just the barest tremor of disappointment and consternation. His fangs clack together.  Ultimately, he bobs his snout in response to the subordinate. “Inform the rest of the crew. Once the Bountiful Goddess is on station, our expedition may begin and Nalia will reclaim the glory she is due.”

“Indeed,” Acran says, bowing to the ship’s commander, “Permission to be dismissed, Ur’Huluth.”

The commander lifts a tattooed palm in response to the Mekke, saying, “Go.”

Dipping his head subserviently, Acran turns his unblinking stare towards the corridor. Later on, he presses just a little harder on the mind of the Ur’Huluth, specifically attempting to feed the predatory instinct of the Nall.

Tyalavikil, momentarily unguarded within his mind as Acran departs, seethes at the inconvenient paranoia of the Vox Council. It seems he had quite hoped to make contact with someone aboard the Rucker. Bringing a Parallax-flagged tanker into the situation makes it difficult – although not impossible – for the Ur’Huluth to do so.

The Mekke pauses carefully, considering his actions, not wishing to move too quickly. Deciding it worth the risk, the telepath gently reminds the Nall of his access to secure text channels, and the image of the walls closing in around him.

The commander drifts off in thought for a bit, then seems to regain his focus. He glances toward Nall at the other stations, wondering if anyone just called out for his attention. However, at this time they seem concentrated on their duties.

That pleases him. He calls up a tightbeam broadcast window on his monocle HUD, then lets the output pads on his fingertips dance in the air as he prepares a message aimed at the Rucker. Three words: “PORTAL LOCK ANTIPATHY.” He then activates the transmission function.

Just like that, Tyalavikil puts his command – and neck – in dire jeopardy.

The Mekke’s mandibles spread wide, but he merely returns to his work, waiting for the opportune moment.

Meanwhile, aboard the Rucker, Captain Miranda Lee is awakened in the darkness of her quarters by the shrill ping of her PDA. She rolls over on her bunk to reach to the bedside table for the device. Peers at the message. Sees the source. “Shit.” That’s just before her intercom buzzes. The tanker’s bridge officer reports: “Our sensors are picking up…”

She finishes for him: “A Nall ship. Right?”

“Aye, Captain,” the bridge officer replies. “Not doing anything. Just on the drift.”

That draws a mordant chuckle from Miranda Lee. The Brazen Star, she knows, is a bomb waiting to go off.

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[SLACK ROLEPLAYING LOG] #rp-exploration: Only Mostly Dead

Surprisingly, James McCrane begins to regain consciousness. Sort of. Everything feels strange. Sight isn’t really sight. Hearing as well. Everything is simply … awareness. He has a body, but that feels strange as well. Stronger, larger, but also…. he might feel as if he is not quite alone within it.

As James slowly comes around, at first, he’s disoriented. Last thing he remembers is a serious pain in the ass, then  nothing. As he starts to tune into his ‘surroundings’, he realizes he’s not in Kansas any more, so to speak. “What the.. is this.. heaven? Or hell?” he thinks. “Knowing my luck, it’s hell…”

“How little you know of hell,” comes the reply of a familiar voice. There are no spoken words between James and Kemetti. Not anymore. James will now be aware that he is in the “Command Center” of the Yaralu. His “body” is devoid of clothing or feature, and it moves strangely. Where he would expect limbs to bend at a joint, they simply … arc, as if there were no true skeletal structure to the form.

“What the fuck!?” James thinks. “Ok, if I’m still hearing your cold hearted voice, then I’m definitely in hell. What the hell am I still doing here, and where the hell am I? This some kind of sick joke?”

“A joke?” Kemetti replies, and James can certainly feel the wave of amusement from the larger being, “I suppose it might be. But as to what you are doing here, I suppose that is up to you. We are in a situation where we can help each other. I suppose that if there were some greater hand at the helm of the universe, that might be a joke.”

“Help each other.” James thinks. “Ok… I’ll bite. Exactly how would that work?” In his mind, though, Kemetti can sense an ‘unspoken’ question of ‘why’.

“My systems are damaged,” Kemetti admits, truthfully, “I can find my way to a world to obtain materials with which I can heal, but it might take an age, and there is a slight possibility I might not survive a landing in my current condition. However, there may also be blood and death wherever I land. Now, I have grown a module which can be flown separately from me, and I could send a few mobile units, but at the required range, I can sense them, and I can sustain them, but cannot control them completely.”

“I see…” James thinks. “So you need me to act as a go between, directing them to gather the materials.” he thinks.

“That is the essence of it,”  the Yaralu replies simply, “I sustain this form for you. You can even prevent the sort of situation which precipitated our … meeting. And I am able to reduce the level of risk to my person.”

“So no more ship chomping.” James thinks. “Ok… you’ve convinced me. Let’s get to work.”

“Just so that we are clear,” the Kemetti sends quickly, “The sustaining of your form requires me to be aware of it and what you do in it. I can cease doing so at any time, and will if you betray this agreement. If you move past my ability to be aware of you, I will also no longer be able to sustain your form.”

“I hear ya.” James says. “Look, if I can help out and keep others from the fate of the Avondale, then I’ve got plenty of reason to help you out.”

“As long as we understand one another,” the great creature replies, “You may need some time to get used to this form. And the projection of your voice into the minds of others, which you will need to do if you wish to negotiate. You will find the excursion module in the landing bay. You will not need to concern yourself with the lack of atmosphere.”

“That’s one positive at least.” James thinks, and takes a few moments to ‘feel’ out his new body. Then he takes a few test steps, and ends up falling flat on his face. “Oof… ok… this is gonna take some getting used to.”

“You are trying too hard to move your muscles,” Kemetti replies, “You have none. Your mind can control the form directly.”

“Right… gotta think about what I’m gonna do before I do it…” James says. “Ok… let’s see…” With some extreme effort and taking movements literally a millimeter at a time, he manages to get to a standing position. Wobbly, but standing. “One foot in front of the other…. ” Shakily, he takes a step, but this time, manages to stay upright. The unit looks like a drunk swan trying to lift off, but despite that, it’s forward movement.

“Take your time,” Kemetti replies, “It is something you have plenty of now.”

James begins to get the hang of moving this new body. After a bit of time practicing, he starts to make his way to the landing bay to check out the excursion module.

The excursion module has an organic and sleek, if asymmetrical form. The only entrance is a large cargo hatch. Near the front of the interior is a pilot’s seat with two pedestals rising beside it, but no viewscreen or consoles.

James climbs into the module, and manages to make it to the seat. Sitting down, he looks at the two pedestals, examining them.

“Place your hands on  them,” Kemetti’s voice says of the two structures that look very much like nerve tissue.

James puts his hands upon the top of the pedestals as instructed. “Since we can communicate by thought, I suspect this also reacts to thought?”

“Yes,” Kemetti replies, unecessarily, as James becomes instantly aware of a much larger form. Sensors, propulsion, weapons, defenses. It is all part of James just as much as the mobile unit’s body.

“Convenient…” James says. “Well.. as my father used to say, ‘Time’s a wastin’. If we need to get you fixed up, then we need to get to it.”

“Do you require rest?” a faint question forms in James’ mind. It is not nearly so strong an impression as when he was aboard Kemetti, but still supplies a certain level of genuine curiosity, “I have never attempted this before.”

“You know, I am not really sure. I don’t feel tired.” James says. “Never had a body like this, but I guess we’ll find out with time. At least for now, I’m clear as a bell.”

“Do keep me advised,” Kemetti says. Even as he says this, a star system comes up on long range sensors, a binary system with orbiting planets.

“Hmm… seems we’ve got some planets coming up on sensors right now.” James says, adjusting course slightly towards them. “So, what are you needing to get patched up?”

“Primarily carbon-based materials,” Kemetti replies, “but calcium deposits and other minerals would be beneficial as well.” Of the seven worlds orbiting the star ahead, one of them has evidence of life.

“Hmm… life readings from one. Picking up anything like transmissions?” James queries.

“It does not seem to have a civilization advanced enough,” the Yaralu replies. There is certainly animal and plant life of a sort on the surface, though whether there is any intelligent life or not is difficult to determine. Continents are mid-sized, and wide-spread.

“Worth checking out regardless.” James says, angling to approach the planet. “If anything we could harvest some trees and maybe a selection of animals. Meanwhile I’ll scan for any mineral deposits.”

Sure enough, there are some calcium deposits in cliffs by the sea. The atmosphere has a particularly high level of oxygen, but as James no longer needs to breathe, it doesn’t pose a much of a  problem. Forests of enormous, swaying stalks rise from the hills that stretch out further away from the pale, pinkish sea.

James angles the vessel to make a landing near one of the stalk forests within easy reach of the cliffs. “Never seen a world like this one. But materials are materials I suppose.”

The landing goes off without a hitch, the feeling of touching down not unlike dropping to one’s feet from a nominal height. There is a slight breeze, and the “sound” of waves crashing at the foot of the cliffs below.

“Time to see just how this body works.” James says, relinquishing the control chair and stepping outside of the ship. He makes his way towards some of the tall stalks, examining them, and working his arms to see just how many he can grab in one go.

At this distance, it becomes apparent that each of the stalks is about a foot in diameter and about 35 feet tall. James is indeed able to tear one off at the base, however. It is made of a relatively soft material, and a certain amount of pale, blue liquid seeps out from the break.

Across the forest, a sound, like whistling wind, can be detected.

“What’s that sound?” James ponders, heaving up the stalk and heading over towards the dropship to place it in the cargo area.

“I am only as aware of it as you are,” Kemetti admits, his voice faint from the distance, “The wind seems quite weak.” Nevertheless, the stalks begin to lean toward the cliffs. And the ship.

James notices the stalks bending. “Strong enough to bend these stalks…” he says, getting the one stalk loaded. Apprehensive, he stays next to the ship, ready to leave quickly if necessary. He starts grabbing as many boulders nearby as he can that contain high levels of calcium.

The boulders seem far lighter than they would be if James were in his old body and are easily collected. Meanwhile, the stalks at the edge of the forest are laid nearly to the ground, almost as if reaching towards the ship. The wailing sound increases in volume.

“Ok, this is getting a bit weird.” James says, and he reboards the ship, taking his seat and reconnecting so he has access to the sensors. He focuses them on the direction of the wind.

The wind is truly not nearly strong enough to level the forest. And in fact, a few of the stalks seem to have grown in length by the time James makes it to the seat.

“Something tells me I’m not wanted.” James says, firing up the engines and lifting off. “It’s like these stalks are thinking.”

A couple of the stalks manage to snag onto a leg of the ship, but though their grip is strong, the ship easily tears them from the ground when it lifts off. Being at the “controls” of the ship, James can still “hear” the screaming outside.

Once he gets up high enough, he pauses to look over the situation. “They aren’t just plants..”

The sound, being further away, is a bit muted now. “Neither are you,” Kemetti says simply.

“True.” James says. “But we’ve got to get you patched up somehow… and if these are thinking creatures, killing one of their own is going to make them less likely to negotiate with.”

“That is often the way,” Kemetti replies, “Though their resistance seems of minimal threat.”

“Well.. lesson learned to be more careful in the future.” James says. “Ever seen a lawnmower at work?” he inquires, as he angles the dropship around to make a full power run right through the ‘forest’ of stalks.

“A lawnmower?” Kemetti asks, somewhat confused.

“Yep. Whirling blade, used to keep grass from growing to high. And that looks like a lawn that could use some mowing.” James says, looking to slice a path right through, the tentacles grabbing stalks as they go and pulling them into the cargo area.

The screaming sound returns with a vengeance, the stalks no match for the dropship’s tentacles as they are torn from the earth. As the ship passes over the center of the mass of stalks, the cargo hold is just about full. Even so, a single word forms itself on the fringes of James’ consciousness, as if he is making telepathic contact. “WHYYYYYYY?!?!?”

James picks it up, and figures it’s got to be coming from either the stalks, or the planet itself. Either way, it’s either get Kemetti some grub, or fade out of existence forever. Survival wins. “That should about do it…” he says, getting some altitude.

As the ship moves away from the planet, the screaming stops, and the stalks in the cargo hold are motionless. “Excellent,” Kemetti says, “That is a good start.”

“Probably pissed off whatever that was, but a guy’s gotta eat, you know? Pretty much if you eat, I eat.” James says, heading back towards Kemetti.
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